Altior is a hot favourite for Saturday’s feature race at Sandown but we’re putting up Un De Sceaux as a value alternative in our Tingle Creek Chase preview.
The iconic Grade 1 contest has attracted just four entries this year, but it is still expected to be a fascinating renewal.
Un De Sceaux has been successful nine times at the top level, including when taking this prize back to Ireland in 2016 by getting the better of Sire De Grugy in a ding-dong battle.
Willie Mullins’ charge was beaten just once last season, when second to Balko Des Flos in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
He followed up that defeat with an 18-length triumph at Fairyhouse, before claiming the scalp of much-vaunted stablemate Douvan in the Champion Chase at the Punchestown Festival.
The 10-year-old has regularly run well when fresh, scoring first time out in six of his seven campaigns.
Un De Sceaux has incredibly only been out of the first two three times in 29 races, falling when in front and going well on a couple of those occasions.
Connections will have welcomed the recent wet weather in England, with the gelding having always appreciated plenty of cut underfoot.
“He’s been in training a while but the ground has made it difficult for him,” said part-owner Colm O’Connell. “Thankfully, the rain is now coming and that is all in our favour.”
Young duo also out to upset favourite
Obviously, Altior commands the utmost respect, having won on all nine starts over fences and prevailing in his last 14 races in all.
Last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase hero signed off that campaign by lifting the Celebration Chase for the second year running at this course in April.
However, Nicky Henderson has had mixed fortunes with his stable stars when making their seasonal reappearances this term.
Buveur D’Air was brilliant in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle last weekend, but Might Bite flopped at Haydock last month and the Lambourn handler will have left a bit to work in with Altior.
The small, but select field is completed by a couple of young pretenders who deserve this step up in class and are both race fit.
Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados likes to make the running and he is fresh from an all-the-way win at Naas four weeks ago.
Alan King is pitching in Sceau Royal following his victory in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last month on his first start since January.
Plenty of value hawks will also be tempted by that pair, but we’re sticking with the ultra-consistent Un De Sceaux as the one to challenge the favourite in our Tingle Creek Chase preview.
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